Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Norah Jones

Come Away With MeBorn: March 30, 1979 

When Norah Jones released her debut disc, Come Away With Me, on Blue Note Records in February 2002, the then 22-year-old singer had no idea the album would be a best-seller. In fact, she kept her expectations low. “I like having low expectations, ‘cause then if something turns out well, you’re always surprised in a good way,” says Jones at Sear Studios in New York while doing the final mixes on her new album.

As it turns out, Jones enjoyed an abundance of surprises. A runaway hit, Come Away With Me became a multi-Grammy winner, multi-platinum seller and opened the door for her to perform around the world with her band. Her producer Arif Mardin surmises that the CD was a tipping-point album. “People were ready for heartfelt music,” he says, while working with Jones on the mixes. “Norah is in the vanguard of another kind of pop music listeners have been yearning for. We’re now in a period of time where listeners are looking for real artists.”

Norah Jones returns to the heartfelt on the eagerly anticipated Feels Like Home, her new Blue Note album. The collection features the singer-songwriter-pianist once again teaming with Mardin, engineer Jay Newland and her close-knit touring band. Jones has penned several songs”by herself and with songwriting partner Lee Alexander”gathered other songs from her band mates and friends, and delivers three covers: Townes Van Zandt’s “Be Here To Love Me,” Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s “The Long Way Home” and Duke Ellington’s “Melancholia,” which she wrote lyrics to and retitled “Don’t Miss You At All.”

Feels Like Home was recorded in two sessions. Last April Jones and her band convened in an upstate New York studio and worked on new songs, including some they had been performing in concert. After an extensive U.S. summer tour, everyone reassembled in New York City to revisit the tracks already recorded, work on different arrangements that had been road-tested and add new numbers to the mix.

On the disc, Jones plays piano, Wurlitzer electric piano and pump organ and features her core group, comprising guitarists Adam Levy and Kevin Breit, background vocalist Daru Oda, bassist Lee Alexander and drummer Andrew Borger. She also brings aboard a select short-list of guests, including Dolly Parton, drummer Levon Helm and organist/accordionist Garth Hudson of The Band, long-time friends guitarists Jesse Harris and Tony Scherr, drummer Brian Blade and keyboardist Rob Burger.

Mardin oversaw the production and again watched Jones work her magic. “These new songs have been a wonderful journey. This album is not about synthesizers or computers. It’s about Norah being au natural. She doesn’t need pitch correction. She’s always in tune, and her voice always touches you. Millions of people around the world feel the same way.”

Feels Like HomeLike the first album, Jones imbues the music on Feels Like Home with country, pop and jazz colors. Unlike the quiet, balladic mood of Come Away With Me (which she once characterized as “mellow”), Jones varied the tempo on the new album to reflect the evolution of her live performances. “I’m very proud of my first record, but I was ready for something a little different,” she says, then jokes, “This time it’s not quite as mellow. But it’s still pretty low-key.”
The first single of the CD, “Sunrise,” has a bright, buoyant feel and is a tune co-written by Jones and Alexander. “We’ve been writing a lot together the last two years,” she says. “We finally figured how we work best.”
The Borger-Oda tune “Above Ground” grooves with funky tinges and chills with gorgeous harmony vocals. “We played this song for the first time in April, and the rehearsal ended up being the take. I’m glad Jay taped it!”
Levy’s contribution, “In the Morning,” features Jones pushing beyond the mellow zone with a bluesy wail and a Wurlitzer solo. “Well, that’s rockin’ out for us,” she says with a smile. “Actually, that was one of the first new songs that we played when we started.”
Alexander’s hoedown, “Creepin’ In,” another Jones and Co. upbeat in-concert highlight, almost didn’t make it onto the record because the group wasn’t sure it would mesh with the rest of the material. But after Jones was invited to Nashville to sing with Dolly Parton at the 2003 Country Music Awards, she decided to ask the country singer for a favor: to duet with her on the bluegrass-spiced number. “We asked Dolly if she’d like to sing on the album and she said yes,” says Jones. “We were so nervous when she came into the studio. She came in and sang her butt off. She sounds great, and Kevin has a great guitar solo on it.”

Equally exciting for Jones was the participation of Helm and Hudson. A big fan of both, she brought the pair in to help her finally nail “What Am I to You,” her tune that had been recorded previously. “We’ve recorded that song five times but never quite got it.” On a whim, she called Tony Scherr to take a stab at it when her other two guitarists were out of town. Then she brought in Helm and Hudson. “It was real special. I have a lot of respect for both of them, and they’re so nice.”
There are several other band originals in the collection, including two slow-tempo beauties with Harris guesting on guitar: Jones and Alexander’s melancholic “Carnival Town” and Alexander and singer-songwriter friend Richard Julian’s lyrical “Those Sweet Words.” Jones and Alexander also collaborated on another live favorite, the gently flowing “Toes”; Breit contributed the character sketch “Humble Me,” and Jones co-wrote “The Prettiest Thing” with Alexander and Julian.
As for covers, Jones renders Townes Van Zandt’s “Be Here To Love Me,” which she points out has “my favorite Adam Levy guitar moment on the album.” Originally she chose the tune to help pick up the tempo on the CD. “But we ended up slowing it down,” she says. “Garth sounds great on the accordion, and Kevin, Adam and Daru sang background vocals.” She hastens to add, “It’s a great song. I love Townes.”

Jones is also an admirer of Tom Waits, whose song “The Long Way Home” (co-written by Waits’ wife Kathleen Brennan), driven by an upbeat Johnny Cash-like guitar bass line, appears on the album. “I met Tom and Kathleen at a concert he was doing. Tom asked me if I had listened to the demos he sent me,” Jones says. “I didn’t even know he had sent me anything, but I assured him I would track them down.” She did and she liked what she heard, but was reluctant at first to record it. “We’ve covered a couple of his tunes in concert, but it’s hard to do because I like his versions so much. I’m a huge fan. We pretty much recorded it like he did.”
Feels Like Home also features a song Jones developed four years ago. She wrote lyrics to the Duke Ellington instrumental “Melancholia,” recorded a demo of it and has been performing it regularly in concert. She decided to record it for the new disc (as “Don’t Miss You At All”) especially because Blue Note President Bruce Lundvall loves it so much. “I didn’t set out to write lyrics to this song,” she says. “Just the thought of touching an Ellington composition scares me. But I was so inspired by it.”

Inspiration is at the heart of Feels Like Home. While Jones approached recording her follow-up to Come Away With Me with the same sense of musical integrity, she maintains that she did not set out to duplicate its achievement. “I’m glad that people liked the last album. It was where I was at the time, musically. This is where I am now. That’s what a recording is for me, like a snapshot. We had so much fun making this record.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maya Nova

Speak Low (Open)Maya Nova is a passionate and soulful  jazz vocalist from Bulgaria.
Born into a family with great love for music and singing, Maya started playing classical guitar at 10 and later on took piano as her second instrument.
Upon graduating with Masters in Jazz & Pop Voice Major from Pop Art Department of National Music Academy in Bulgaria, she started appearing on the live music stage with several group projects: Mayrose Jazz Trio; funk bands – Chameleon and Infinity; pop-band – Forte.
Finalist at 2 Voice Competitions for young talents: “Golden Orpheus” and “Star Moments”, where she performed with National Radio Big Band. Other credits include appearances at Sofia Jazz Fall Festival with Maya Nova Jazz Quartet and the popular TV program “Todor Kolev’s Night Show” with National Music Academy Big Band.

live at Jazz @ South Bridge, SingaporeMaya Nova has performed internationally at concerts, festivals and jazz clubs in Denmark, Norway, Cypress, Singapore, Malaysia, India, China, South Korea.
In 2009 Maya was a semi-finalist of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition performing at the 43rd Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
Singapore is currently her second home, where she holds the position of Main Study Voice Lecturer at LaSalle College of The Arts combining it with a busy performing schedule.
In September 2010 Maya Nova has released her-self produced debut album OPEN. Comprising renditions of jazz standards like: My Shining Hour, I’m Old Fashioned, Speak Low, Wild Is the Wind, Grooving High and two of her originals – the Bulgarian folk song based Polegnala e Todora Blues and Open.
The sound of this record carries the intimate feel of an honest soulful voice backed by an acoustic jazz trio – Tan Wei Xiang on fender rhodes, Andrew Klein on double bass and Tan Boon Gee on drums.
With all her love, Maya has dedicated this album to her late father!

All about Maya Nova, visit her official website...


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kathy Sanborn

Blues For BreakfastBlues For Breakfast, the hot new jazz CD from sultry pianist/vocalist Kathy Sanborn, releases March 8, 2011 through popular vendors such as Barnes&Noble and

Blues for Breakfast treats you to a sumptuous feast of lively, memorable tunes and sensual, heartfelt ballads. The album also features GRAMMY® nominee Scott Petito's distinctive bass, Chris Carey's sizzling drums, and Wayne Ricci's soulful trumpet.

Already being aired by radio stations across the nation, Blues for Breakfast serves up a menu of tasty tunes to fuel you throughout your day. The Pulse of Entertainment says: “Ten delicious selections . . . You will find yourself playing it continuously."

The fiery title track, “Blues for Breakfast," showcases Sanborn's love of jazz history and her affection for the famed musicians of the 1930s-50s who performed on New York's 52nd Street. Sanborn says: “I wrote the song, 'Blues for Breakfast,' as a fond tribute to the jazz masters of days gone by. On New York's 52nd Street, the greats would 'walk the high wire' and enthrall and inspire new generations of jazz players. As jazz continues to evolve in the modern era, I imagine the masters are looking down and nodding their approval."

Blues for Breakfast is a tasty musical treat that jazz lovers will want to savor over and over again. JazzTimes says of Blues for Breakfast: “Steamy . . . Classic jazz with a torchlight finish . . . A jacuzzi for the ears."

Sanborn wears many hats on the Blues for Breakfast album: composer, performer, producer, and engineer. GRAMMY® nominee Scott Petito's NRS Recording Studio in New York shares recording and engineering credits as well.

Now putting finishing touches on tour plans to promote Blues for Breakfast, Sanborn is looking forward to performing the new songs for live audiences. “All tour dates will be announced via our web site," Sanborn says.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to Start a Jazz Band

Do you love jazz? A lot of people do. Well you might've been thinking of starting a jazz band. If you're not sure how to do that, hopefully after reading this you'll know how.

Listen to jazz. Before you even get your band together, make sure you know what jazz sounds like so it's a lot easier for you to write original songs.

Learn the church modes: Lygian, phrygian, locrean, and blues are the most common. Learn the wholestep/half step patterns and you can play all scales (you can also just learn the realationship between the modes. Ex: the phrygian scale is the major scale with a lowered 2, 3,6,and7th scale degree). The pentatonic scale is also a good one to learn for solos.

Decide if you're going to be an instrumental group or a vocal group. Obviously the difference between those two is that instrumental groups don't have singers, and are more like small jazz orchestras. If you have a vocalist, they need to have a good range of singing styles.

Get a pianist. They should be able to play well and should have a fluent knowledge of jazz chord progressions.

Get a drummer. The drummer should be able to keep a steady beat, and should be able to play quite fast.

Get one or two guitarists. They should know how to read real notes(not tab) and at least one of them should be able to solo.

Get a bassist. They will be able to provide a good solid foundation over which to play. they should be able to play both double bass and electric bass.

Get a trumpet player. They should have fairly good tone and should know basic tricks like trills and vibrato.

Get saxophones. Saxophones are the spirit of jazz, and they are extremely important. You will need a tenor sax, and an alto sax. If you like you can also get a baritone sax. (if you dont get a baritone sax, you probly need to get a bass trombone)

Decide on whether or not to have a singer. If you want one, you'll have to decide on whether you want a male singer, female singer, or both! They should have good breath control.

Come up with a genre. Well obviously jazz, but what kind? If you don't know exactly you can find a list of genres here...

Make a band name. It should reflect your style, but it can be anything you like! Just get your band together and brainstorm band names.

Start practicing! Practice a lot! The more you practice, the better! There's no such thing as perfect. When you're practising, just make sure every one's following along, and not behind. If anyone is having trouble, try to help them. If they refuse to practice, replace them.

Start writing songs. No band will get anywhere if you don't have an original song list. Write some songs, and lyrics, and make sure the whole band is involved. You should only start writing original songs when you think you're ready, and when everyone is confident in playing many covers, and you should all be quite experienced musicians by this point.

Start searching for gigs. You can start off with parties and basements, but once you become a little more well-known, you shouuld ask around and play at your local jazz bars, clubs or whatever! And don't forget to keep practicing!

Have a myspace. It will drastically help you with marketing, as lots of people will be able to hear your music, and fans can check your blog for news.

Record a demo. It should have at least five songs. Put your best song on track one, and your second best on the last track. You can now send this demo to record labels, and sell them to fans at your concerts.

Just have fun! You might not get signed, but you can have fun playing local shows, and hey , you never know...

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Born: February 15, 1977

has been amazing international audiences for over 10 years, the petit lady with the mammoth voice. Her high impact, poised performances range from powerful to subtle, sassy to wistful, elegant to sublime. Her unique voice brings back memories of the first half of last century. She is inspired by the likes of Billy Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Carmen Mc Rae. The music of Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and many others places her at comfort.
This 29-year-old graceful lady from central Java fills a stage, despite her minim measurements of merely 38 kilos. Soukma has been performing in Indonesia and beyond with numerous Jazz musicians. Apart from participation in nationwide live television broadcasts, she performed extensively at Jazz venues, festivals and events.


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